“He who has once yielded to temptation will yield more readily the second time.” –Ellen White, from her book, Patriarchs and Prophets*
Have you ever noticed how true this statement is? Say yes to drinking alcohol once and you’re more likely to do it again. Visit a pornographic website once and you’re more likely to come back for more. Tell one lie, and the next lie gets easier to tell. Have you noticed a pattern in these three examples? All three examples, alcohol, pornography, and lying, never actually satisfy the person who plays with them; and this is why the person comes back again and again for more, often in larger quantities or with more “exciting” qualities. And of course the obvious, they’re all addictions.
In this chapter, Pharaoh also has an addiction. What is it?
Now the Lord said to Moses, “One more plague I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely. 2 Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold.” 3 The Lord gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.
4 Moses said, “Thus says the Lord, ‘About midnight I am going out into the midst of Egypt, 5 and all the firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of the Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the millstones; all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6 Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again. 7 But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ 8 All these your servants will come down to me and bow themselves before me, saying, ‘Go out, you and all the people who follow you,’ and after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, so that My wonders will be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” 10 Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.
Pharaoh’s addiction was saying no to God. Every time God, through Moses, sent Pharaoh a message, Pharaoh would watch in awe of God’s mighty power, and then refuse to release the remnant people. Like someone with an addiction, Pharaoh let the terrible disasters excite him, forgetting about their dire results. Then when the disaster got out of hand, he cried to God (again, through Moses) for help. God promptly stopped the disaster, and Pharaoh promptly forgot about how powerful God was.
Does this trend sound familiar? It does for me. And addict will cry out for help, sometimes from God, or sometimes from another person, and rejoice when the dire effects of their addiction go away. Then, “it has happened to them according to the true proverb, ‘A dog returns to its own vomit,’ and, ‘A [pig], after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire’” (2 Peter 2:22). They dive right back in to the slimy pit they’ve just been lifted out of.
Pharaoh’s addiction was getting worse and worse. God kept sending the plagues, and Pharaoh kept refusing to listen to God. It is because God sent the plagues, and because God knew what Pharaoh would do, that the Bibles says “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Exodus 11:10).
What about you? Do you suffer from an addiction?
Yes? I can guarantee you one thing: God knows how you got trapped in the addiction, and He knows how to pull you out! We serve a God who “is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24).
No? I would argue otherwise. We all have faults—faults that we keep repeated repeatedly. Maybe your addiction is the same as Pharaoh’s: not listening to God’s voice. Yes, we all are guilty of this addiction. “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6). Are we living up to what we believe? Do we follow God’s word, the Bible, and make it our guidebook for daily life?
I am an addict. Don’t judge! You are an addict, too. I pray that we all will learn to depend on and believe in the God who is able to keep you and me from stumbling.
-Timmy Baze 😀
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
*Ellen White, 1827-1915, is considered the most translated female author in the history of literature. A woman of extraordinary spiritual gifts, she is most famous for her classic, Steps to Christ, which is among the top 20 best-selling books in history and has been translated into over 135 languages.